Everything to Know About Corn
Corn has been a foundation of a variety of cuisines for centuries, long adored by both children and adults alike, and for good reason. This vegetable is one of the most versatile ingredients around, with a mild, sweet-fresh taste and tons of nutrients to boot.
- ...is a good source of fiber.A 200-gram serving of corn contains approximately 8 grams of dietary fiber, almost a third of the minimum recommended daily amount.
- ...has a lot of sugar for a vegetable.Corn’s famous sweet taste comes from its high sugar content, which is most intense just after harvesting. With time, however, the sugar transforms into healthy starch, making older corn more nutritious.
- ...regulates the body's water balance.A 100-gram serving of corn contains 300 milligrams of potassium, a particularly large amount for a vegetable. This is good for the body's fluid balance and for maintaining balanced blood pressure.
- ...supports muscle and nerve health.Corn’s high magnesium content (a 100-gram serving contains 34 percent of your daily requirement) contributes to strong muscles and nervous system.
- ...is good for gout.Fresh corn’s low uric acid content makes it a good option for gout sufferers.
- ...is free of histamines.Anyone with histamine intolerance can still eat fresh corn.
- ...is packed with B vitamins.Corn contains various B vitamins, with niacin at the top of the list (a 100-gram serving contains 1.7 milligrams). This vitamin plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids.
What You Should Know About Corn
Corn was already being systematically cultivated and harvested as long as 5,000 years ago, first as animal feed and later for the production of flour and semolina for bread and tortillas.
To this day, corn flour and corn semolina (polenta) are particularly important products made from corn throughout Europe. In the U.S., sweet fresh corn has been a popular snack since at least the mid-1850s.
Corn originates from the ancient Mayan and Aztec tribes of Latin America. Archaeologists in Mexico found traces of the plants, which are very similar to today's corn, dating from 3000 B.C. Today, the majority of corn is still cultivated in North America.The U.S. alone harvests about 2.5 million tons of corn per year.
You can buy fresh corn on the cob from July through the end of October. During the rest of the year, you can use frozen or canned corn as a substitute in recipes.
The natural sugar content in corn provides its characteristic sweet taste.
There are two main categories of corn: vegetable corn or sweet corn and grain corn or field corn. Yellow corn is probably the most popular variety in the U.S., while in South America many different colored varieties are grown, including red, blue or even purple and black kinds.
How Healthy Is Corn?
For centuries, corn has been considered an important food all over the world, and with good reason. Its balanced composition of carbohydrates, fat, protein, and minerals, especially calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and vitamin C, provides the body with a powerful cocktail of valuable nutrients.
And while there’s some debate as to whether corn is considered a grain or a vegetable, it is gluten-free.
|Corn Nutritional Info (100 g)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
Fresh corn kernels still on the cob should look plump, and shiny, and have a dark yellow, almost orangey hue. If in doubt, try the scratch test- corn is at its peak state of ripeness if the kernels emit a milky white liquid when scratched.
If you can’t find fresh corn or it’s not in season, a good alternative is always frozen corn cobs, which are usually frozen right after harvesting at the vegetable’s peak ripeness.
Never let fresh corn sit too long before consuming it. Fresh off the cob, corn loses its typical sweet taste at breakneck speed. Just two hours after harvesting, up to 50 percent of the corn’s sugar has already been converted into starch, even when stored in the freezer. If you need to store your corn, keep it in the refrigerator for no longer than one or two days.
Preparing corn is easy; simply rinse the cobs briefly and pat them dry. If your recipe calls for kernels only, simply cut them from the stalk carefully with a serrated knife.
Cooking corn is just as fast and easy; simply boil the raw kernels in boiling, salted water for three to four minutes.
What To Make With Corn
Grilled corn on the cob is always a summertime hit, as is fresh corn salad with tomato and feta. In the winter, corn makes a delicious addition to stews or soups like hearty fish chowders, or as the base of an appetizer (think buttery corn fritters).
Of course, corn also goes particularly well with specialties from its native Mexico, where its natural sweetness is paired deliciously with more piquant spices.